It’s quite often that RVers will get the question, “How do you live together in such a small space?” It doesn’t matter if you’re a traveling family of four or a couple; living in a small space can be challenging. It can also be stressful on your relationship with your significant other or spouse, so let’s look at a few relationship-saving tips for couples who RV. You won’t want to hit the road without them!
RVing Presents Unique Challenges
The RV life just isn’t the same as the traditional sticks-and-bricks life. If traveling full-time, families have the challenges of homeschooling and working from the road. Internet connectivity can be unreliable, which makes both stressful at times. Managing work and leisure time is also challenging for families who RV full-time. When parked on the shores of South Padre Island, it can be difficult to get motivated to work.
The tiny living space is also a huge challenge for RVers. Whether camping every weekend or traveling full-time, getting used to 200 to 300 square feet of living space takes some time. There is very little privacy. There is also very little space to store things. What to pack and what to leave can be stressful. So RVing presents unique challenges that only RV couples understand.
Benefits of Traveling for Couples Who RV
For couples who RV, living in a small space has challenges like internet connectivity and other issues. But there are also huge benefits to traveling together that make RVing well worth it.
You Share Memorable Experiences
When you travel to national parks and summit a mountain or boondock in a wilderness area and paddle down the river, you’re sharing these experiences together. Instead of taking photos to share and talking about the trip with someone who didn’t go, you get to relive those memorable moments. You’re making these memories together, and they’ll last a lifetime.
You Spend Quality Time Together
As you share in these memorable experiences, you spend quality time together. You may still be working from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day, but the time you spend doing things together is more enjoyable. You might not be spending a lot of time together if you have to work from the road. However, the time you do spend together, you can do things like hiking, biking, or even just having a beverage by the campfire at night.
If you don’t have to work while traveling, you have even more chances to spend quality time together. Consider how much better your time spent on a 4-mile paddle along the river is compared to sitting down watching the news after dinner. You’re making memories and spending quality time with one another.
You Develop Conflict Resolution Skills
One of the challenges of RVing is living in a small space together. A result of that challenge is developing conflict resolution skills. This is a great benefit of traveling for couples who RV.
Instead of giving your spouse the silent treatment for three days, you learn to work out your differences to live in harmony. Instead of blowing your lid, you learn how to manage your anger with your spouse to have a peaceful night. There isn’t room to let conflict stir in an RV. You have to learn to deal with it in this lifestyle.
Challenges of Traveling for Couples Who RV
In addition to the benefits mentioned earlier, there are also specific challenges for RV couples. There is little privacy, travel days can be hard, and flexibility isn’t always easy.
You Have Little Alone Time
When it’s just you and your partner, the time spent together can be wonderful, sharing memorable experiences and doing things you’ve never done before. But there comes a time when you need to be alone. You need to go for a jog just to get away or sit outside so you can read a book quietly. Whether you have six people living in your RV or just two, having very little time to yourself is a challenge.
You’re Grumpy on Long Travel Days
When the two of you are in a vehicle together for hours and hours, the time can pass by very slowly. There’s a lot of silence to fill with conversation. Someone could say something to irritate the other. If you run into traffic, construction, or delays, it adds even more time to a long travel day, which adds stress and irritability.
Once you arrive at the campground, you just want to get away from each other, but it’s time for dinner, and there’s nowhere to escape. Long travel days can make couples who RV grumpy.
Pro Tip: Kiss conflict goodbye by using these 10 Simple Ways to Make RV Driving Days Not Suck.
You Don’t Adjust Well to Change
On those long travel days, sometimes you have to adjust on the fly. Maybe there’s a detour, and you’re unsure of how RV-friendly the new route is, so you decided to stop for a night at a nearby campground.
Or, if the weather looks rough for your upcoming drive day, you decide it’s best to leave a day early and just boondock in a Walmart parking lot a few hours down the road. This might not go over well with the other person. If changes like this fluster you, your inflexibility can negatively affect your partner.
5 Relationship-Saving Tips for Couples Who RV
But have no fear because there is hope for couples who RV. These challenges can break you, or you can choose to follow a few tips to save your relationship and your RVing adventures.
Make Time for Personal Time
Since neither person gets much alone time, it’s important to be intentional about carving out this time for each other. Give your spouse a night to themself or schedule a morning when one of you goes for a hike alone.
If nighttime reading is something one of you enjoys, give that space to your partner for time alone. But you must communicate this with each other and be intentional. Otherwise, it will never happen. An RV couple must respect each other’s need for personal time.
Have Regular Date Nights
RVing is adventurous. You’re probably doing more things together now than you ever have before. But don’t forget to have regular date nights. Keep the romance burning by taking your wife out to see a movie with her favorite actor or taking your husband out to a local brewery.
Do the fun things like hiking, biking, paddling, and fishing, but don’t forget to also do romantic things. Buy flowers or chocolates if that’s meaningful. Get tickets to a game or concert if that would be a fun surprise. Schedule these days or nights into your time spent traveling.
Follow the 3/3/3 Drive Day Rule
To avoid long travel days and the grumpiness that follows, follow the 3/3/3 drive day rule. Don’t travel more than 300 miles. This keeps your driving to about five or six hours max. Second, stop at least every three hours. This prevents fatigue and gives you a chance to stretch your legs, grab a snack, and use the restroom.
Finally, arrive at your destination by 3:00 p.m. If you do this, you’ll be setting up in a new location with plenty of sunlight. You don’t want to add even more frustration to a long drive day by arriving after hours in the dark.
Always Have a Plan B
Some people find it easier to adjust to change than others. But being flexible is part of the RV life. Couples who RV always need a Plan B so that if and when something goes wrong or doesn’t go as planned, the change is swift, and everyone is on the same page.
If you know you have a long drive day ahead, have a Plan B for an overnight stop if you run into bad weather or delays. If you have plans to hike a trail in a popular national park, have a Plan B just in case you can’t find parking. It’s easier to be flexible when you’re already thinking ahead.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Although it’s much easier said than done, it’s important not to sweat the small stuff. Things are going to go wrong. The foot pedal on the toilet might break, the trim along the slide room might fall off, or the pipes underneath the kitchen sink might leak.
Some things are worth getting upset over. But if you limit the things that stress you out and just deal with the small things, you’ll handle the bigger events better. Remember, you’re in this RV life together, so how you react will affect the other person.
Pro Tip: Liven up your RV adventures by heading with your partner to one of these 9 Top-Rated National Historical Parks.
How Couples Who RV Keep Their Marriage Strong
Here are a few RV couples who give tips about how they keep their marriages strong. They’ve been traveling for years and have lots of experience with the challenges of maintaining solid relationships on the road.
A small space will amplify any problems you already have. As with Fate Unbound, this can also be true for the opposite type of relationship. Roe shares that her relationship with David has always been positive, and they worked out conflict well before they hit the road. This has been a huge benefit as they’ve moved into a much smaller living space.
David explains that they quickly seek a resolution when they have conflict. There’s nowhere to hide, and they know they have to find a solution to keep peace in the RV. He also explains that they’ve broken down chores and tasks so that each feels like they’re carrying an equal load. This keeps the expectations clear on who is responsible for what.
Sharing things you want to do is also important. You have to make compromises in marriage. It’s no different on the road. If one partner wants to visit a big city and the other hates the traffic, you need to compromise. But it’s just as important to ensure everyone is doing something they want. Perhaps one day you go into the city together, and the next day you just hang out at the RV. Make sure you’re compromising equally.
Long Long Honeymoon
Sean and Kristy of Long Long Honeymoon share that if you already have a relationship where you’re at odds with each other, RVing can add even more problems to your marriage. Things will happen because of the wear and tear of RVing, and if you already struggle to get along, your marriage will struggle to survive.
Kristy reminds their subscribers that they’re not in their rig all day. The tiny living space of their Airstream isn’t where they spend most of their time. They’re out exploring and doing things, so the time they actually spend inside the Airstream is relatively limited. This helps them feel like their “home” is actually much bigger.
They also share that they do their own things without the other. Sometimes Sean will go to photograph wildlife, and Kristy will stay at the camper. Or she will go shopping and leave Sean at the camper. This helps them maintain their personal time while living in a small space.
Happily Ever Hanks
Kyle and Renee Hanks of Happily Ever Hanks take a comical look at living together in a small space. One thing they mention that has worked for them is waking up at different times. This gives them personal time to start the day, and they’re not bumping into each other in the bathroom or getting coffee.
They also share how they’ve switched roles to better understand the other one’s responsibilities. Now they can each do all of the necessary chores of RVing. Happily Ever Hanks also talks about how there will be arguments, but they must solve them quickly. Like other couples who RV have shared, conflict resolution is vitally important to the overall health of your marriage.
Practice Patience With Your RV Family, Too
RV couples aren’t the only ones that experience the relationship strains of RV life. Families who RV also have to navigate the trials of close quarters. Fortunately, the same guidance from above can help in these situations as well. RVing with your family is a great way to bond, but remember that camping isn’t always sunshine and s’mores.
Will Your RVing Experience Be a Nightmare or a Dream Come True?
The main thing to remember when RVing is that the relationship you take into the RV will be magnified once you move into a tiny space. If you have a pet peeve about your spouse chewing on ice, it will be even more of a pet peeve in an RV. If you get irritated when your RVing partner doesn’t put the dishes in the right place, you’ll be even more annoyed in an RV.
But you will also magnify the experiences you share. Sipping coffee outside your camper while watching a herd of elk graze in Wyoming beats sitting in traffic heading into work. Hiking the Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park and helping each other tiptoe around ledges and scale rocky cliffs beats going for a walk in your suburban neighborhood.
Have realistic expectations when you enter the RV life. But use these relationship-saving tips for maintaining healthy relationships on the road. Not everything will be perfect, but if you make the most of it together, you’ll have adventures and memories to last a lifetime!
Do you have a tip for couples who RV to add to the list? Tell us in the comments!
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